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Mon Dipping Sauce (น้ำปลามอญ) by Ong Bunjoon

Mon Dipping Sauce
I recently fell in love with a book. I’m still head over heels as I’m typing this sentence.

Long story short, I popped into a Kinokuniya during a quick layover in Bangkok early this summer in hopes of finding something tiny but texty and thrilling* to read on the 4-hour plane ride I’d catch later that evening. No more than 5 minutes later, I walked out with a copy of Khang Samrap Mon (ข้างสำรับมอญ)**, a pocketbook — still shrink-wrapped — with nothing that appealed to me on a quick glance other than the author’s vaguely familiar name.

Not only was the book devoured in one sitting as planned, it was also constantly by my side as I was hopping from place to place in East and Southeast Asia in the following 3 months. All sorts of brutal acts like double- and triple-underlining, highlighting, dog-earing, excessive exclamation pointing, and ranty, monologic marginal-notating had been committed by me against the poor book. But in the process, I had learned so much about the culture and food of the ethnic Mon in Thailand. Continue Reading →

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My Book – Simple Thai Food: Classic Recipes from the Thai Home Kitchen

Simple Thai Food by Leela Punyaratabandhu
Remember when the Zealous Water Buffalo told you many months ago that I was writing a book? Well, it’s done. Simple Thai Food: Classic Recipes from the Thai Home Kitchen won’t be available until around mid-May, but if you preorder it now, you will be among the first people to get it.

That’s not all, if you preorder the book now, you will be given access to a video tutorial on how to make red curry from scratch, from the homemade paste to the finished dish. I do not intend on making this video public on the blog or elsewhere, at least within the next year or so. So it will be available immediately to only the early birds among you and no one else. So, please be sure to keep the email confirmation from your bookseller of choice (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, iBooks, and Google Books) when you preorder.

You have until Thai New Year (April 13) to do so which is when I will tell you how to redeem your gift.

But first, let me tell you a bit about the book so you know what you’re investing in. In keeping with the theme of simplicity, I will sum up this book into one sentence. Continue Reading →

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Shrimp Paste Relish with Lime Rind (น้ำพริกผิวมะนาว) and a Little Ghost Tale

Thai Shrimp Paste Chili Relish
What criteria do you use to gauge how much you understand another culture? How do you rank these criteria in terms of their importance? How objective is your ranking and what are the factors influencing it? What characteristics must someone from a different culture exhibit – what knowledge must they possess for you to consider them well-assimilated or at least well-versed in your culture? What are the things you need to do or say or prove in order to assure someone that you really understand their culture and vice versa? What criteria do you think someone else from a culture different from yours may use to measure your understanding of their culture? I often wonder about these things. Continue Reading →

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